Monday, May 1, 2017

April Field Trips

As I mentioned in my last post, we finished up April with back-to-back field trips.

Wednesday we went to Indian Echo Caverns with our homeschool group. It was awesome! The caverns are beautiful! My camera was giving me fits, so I only managed to get one or two pictures, and it doesn't do the cave justice, but it was very cool! The tour was interesting, and the kids had fun learning about the cave, and spending time with friends. After the tour, we ate the picnic lunches we had brought and all the kids (from preschoolers through teenagers) played on the playground and eventually they were all participating in a huge game of tag. So fun!

We left straight from the caverns to go to my parents' house so that, on Thursday we could go to Maryland Zoo in Baltimore. My zoo membership expired the end of April, so we wanted to sneak in one last zoo before it expired. The "nests" at Maryland Zoo have been a favorite photo spot since the big girls were little, but now only Little Bit will humor me :)

The real reason we made sure to go to this particular zoo was the baby giraffe! When we got there, the parking lot was more than twice as full as I've ever seen it! (granted, we try to make a point of going on not-busy days, apparently a Thursday in late April doesn't fit that category, who knew!). I was concerned that, with so many people, the giraffe house would be mobbed and/or closed because the baby needed a break. But we ended up, rather randomly, choosing to do the "other half" of the zoo first, then ate lunch and THEN headed to the African animal area.

By then the school groups, and many of the other people had cleared out (and/or were in the section we went to first), and there were only a couple other families in the giraffe house when we got there. The baby giraffe, in addition to be adorable (of course), is a complete natural at this zoo thing! The entire time we were there she stayed right in front of the windows, and often right up AGAINST the windows, seeming to pose for pictures! Little Bit was over the moon!

Friday, we headed to the 18th Century Market Fair at Fort Frederick. It was HOT, and we all got a little sun burned, but it was sooo fun!! I'd been wanting to go for several years but had never figured out the logistics to actually be in Maryland for it. This year it worked out! And I think it's going to be a priority most years from now on. The "living history demonstrations" in the fort itself weren't as impressive as I'd have expected . . . the barracks were open, but not that much more than normally, and there was a musket shooting demo while we were there but we're not nearly as interested in guns as we are in the rest of history. BUT there were tons of "sutlers" (vendors) all over the grounds. The rules are pretty strict to make sure that the vendors are historically accurate, which means there's tons of really cool stuff to see AND all (or at least most) of the vendors are true history nerds!

By the well inside the fort.
We spent probably an hour talking to a woman who makes 18th century clothes by spinning and dying her own wool, weaving it into cloth, and hand-sewing it into period clothing. It was fascinating! The other vendor we spent a LONG time talking to was a "blanket historian". He has spent years studying a specific type of 18th century woolen blanket known as "rose blankets" (they have an embroidered design on the corners that looks similar to a compass rose). He not only taught us TONS about the blankets, but told the girls that if they're interested in history, the key is to "specialize" in something nobody else cares about. Because if you go into a museum and ask to see something that ALL historians want to see, the curator's not likely to let you, but if you go in and ask to see something that's shoved in a back room being ignored, they're likely to turn you lose in that back room, happy that SOMEONE cares about it. He said he's gotten to dig through cabinets full of blankets at museums from tiny little ones to the Smithsonian. We probably talked to him for 45 min. or more and could easily have stayed longer if we hadn't wanted to see the rest of the vendors before we left.
Some of the sutlers' tents as seen from the wall of the fort.

The day re-inspired the girls' interest in making colonial costumes and they're busy researching how to make stays, and historically accurate costumes. We figure, even if it's a couple years before we make it back to Williamsburg, we should be able to make it back to the Fort Frederick Market Fair every year so they can wear their costumes there :)

The last couple days of April were quieter, and in a few days I'll have another post with our "early May field trips" :)

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